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Don Matthews plays Arthur and Kristen Calvin plays Lady of the Lake in Camelot Theatre's production of 'Spamalot,' running through July 23. [Photo by Steve Sutfin]

Camelot's 'Spamalot' scores big laughs

“Monty Python’s Spamalot," directed by Renee Hewitt, is over the top, splendidly overacted and entirely hilarious.

Whether you’re a fan of Monty Python or have never heard of the British comedic troupe, “Monty Python’s Spamalot” will have you rolling on the floor.

“Spamalot,” which opened Friday at Camelot Theatre in Talent, is a rowdy remake of the Legend of King Arthur and Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail. Arthur travels his realm seeking knights who will join the court at Camelot. Thanks to a talented cast, the production has all of Monty Python’s signature stream-of-consciousness, irreverent, ridiculous and very physical humor — in song.

The Historian, played by Geoffrey Riley, opens the show with measured pronouncements about England in 932 A.D. and throughout is a god-like voice from on high. The Historian wears a lot of clothes, so it’s a wonder how Riley is able to move so smoothly between this role and the manic antics of the stripped-down ensemble.

Don Matthews as Arthur is very, very tall and talented, too. His deep bass voice booms out declarations and proclamations, and his kingly demeanor is impervious to ridicule despite the tomfooleries that abound. Arthur stands tall in the saddle, as well, leading loyal Patsy (Isaac Bergstrom) and the knights, all clopping along with coconut shells.

Despite the well covered-up dancing nun and cowled monks who hit themselves in the head at every step, there’s lots of skin and many panties revealed in “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” The female cast shimmies and shakes in “Laker Girls,” showing off their bottoms to spell G-A-L-A-H-A-D; later they dress for Vegas and twirl maces instead of pasties. Rigo Jimenez plays Galahad, clearly romancing the ladies, and later he is Prince Herbert’s pop-eyed father, screaming "STOP SINGING" against a lime-green screen.

The Lady of the Lake, played by Kristen Calvin, has more shimmery, sequined gowns than anyone could imagine, thanks to top-notch costume designer Kayla Bush. Calvin’s voice and performance are remarkable for range, power, gesture and expression; she is just magnificent in this play within a play of musical nonsense.

Those who know and love “Monty Python’s Spamalot” will find all the expected jokes and comic scenes that are even more rousing, thanks to superb performances by the ensemble and cast. There’s a most excellent Not Dead Fred (played by an incredibly flexible Joey Larimer), screeching cats, Lancelot (Cody Pettit) outed, Knights of Ni who scream "NI" at the word "IT", a big finger and audience involvement, the bibbity boppity boo bit and lots more.

Rather than a music bed to carry the performance, a bed of laughter scores “Monty Python’s Spamalot” — and it’s not a simple giggle or occasional guffaw, but deep down, sustained laughter from the heart.

“Monty Python’s Spamalot” runs about two hours, with one 15-minute intermission. The show plays through July 23 at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Talent. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. See camelottheatre.org or call 541-535-5250 for information.

— Maureen Flanagan Battistella is a freelance writer who lives in Ashland, Oregon. She can be reached at mbattistellaor@gmail.com.

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